Panthers fall to defending champions in home opener
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Eastern Connecticut State University opened defense of its Little East Conference softball championship Saturday with a pair of victories over Plymouth State University, 5-2 and 8-7, in the Panthers' home opener at D&M Park.
Senior Emily Komornik (Shelton, Conn.) hit a two-run home run and junior Danielle Robillard (Swansea, Mass.) drove in two runs on sacrifice bunts to lead the five-time defending regular-season champs in the opener. Junior Rebecca DeFeo (Exeter, R.I.) had three hits and two RBI and senior Samantha Rentz (Griswold, Conn.) hit a two-run homer and the Warriors rallied from a 7-4 deficit to pull out the nightcap.
Freshman Lindsey Hall (Midlothian, Va.) led the Panthers with a pair of home runs, one in each game, to give her three on the season. Senior Julia Royer (Pawcatuck, Conn.) had four hits on the day, two in each game, with a double in the opener.
Both teams now sport 7-11 overall records, with Eastern now 2-0 in the LEC and PSU 0-2.
PSU took a 2-0 lead in the third inning of the opener on Hall's first home run of the day, a two-run blast to left. Eastern answered with four runs in the top of the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Komornik tied the game with a two-run homer to left, and after junior Samantha Bardos (Norwalk, Conn.) reached on a bunt single, an outfield error on a fly ball hit by junior Summer Cipriani (North Stonington, Conn.) allowed Bardos to score from first and Cipriano advanced to third.
Robillard's sac bunt scored Cipriani to make it 4-2, and Robillard repeated the act in the sixth inning for an insurance run.
Komornik and Cipriano alternated pitching stints for Eastern, with Cipriani picking up the win (3-4) in relief, allowing just two hits and a walk in two-and-a-third innings of relief. Freshman Kayla Mathieu (Fairfax, Vt.) pitched five innings for PSU, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks, but took the loss (4-3).
Eastern jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the nightcap with one run in the second inning and three in the third. Freshman Calli Duthrie (Griswold, Conn.) singled in a run in the second, and Rentz' home run highlighted the third-inning rally.
PSU erupted for seven runs in its half of the third inning, batting around and recording eight hits. Freshman Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) started the rally with a triple to right field. Kennard singled and Hall followed with her second homer of the day. After scoring runs on a fielder's choice and a wild pitch, the Panthers capped the rally with a two-run double by junior Rachel Morrissey (Salem, N.H.).
Eastern pulled out the win with two runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Cipriani led off with a double, and after a walk, four straight Warriors bunts scored two runs. An error and a wild pitch led to the tying run in the sixth inning, and DeFeo's two-out RBI single to right proved to be the game-winner.
Cipriano earned her second win of the day, working four and two-thirds innings of relief, allowing one run on four hits. .). Sophomore Allison Moylan (Methuen, Mass.) suffered the loss in relief, giving up two unearned runs in two innings of work.
Both teams are right back on the diamond Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with LEC make-up doubleheaders, as PSU visits UMass Dartmouth and Eastern Conn. returns home to host UMass Boston.
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